Champions by default?

Global pandemic causes questions to be asked in the English Premier League

by Aiden Daries

If everything had gone according to plan for Liverpool, they would have been crowned Premier League champions on the weekend of 21 March 2020. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic halting all sporting activities indefinitely, they cannot achieve this just yet. The Premier League has been suspended until early April, but with the pandemic not likely to disappear anytime soon, it could cause a complete end to the 2019/20 Premier League season.

The thought of missing out on the Premier League title for the first time in 30 years for reasons beyond their control, would put everybody associated with the Merseyside club into a state of despair.

Liverpool are 25 points clear from second-place Manchester City and are looking well on course to pick up their 19th Championship title. The Merseyside club would be deserved winners if they do secure the title.

Not so long ago they were eyeing a treble come the end of the season. This dream, however, petered out as they succumbed to defeat against Atlético Madrid in the Champions League round of 16 and Chelsea F.C. in the FA Cup 5th round respectively.

The Reds now have their eyes set solely on the biggest prize in England, but it looks ever more likely that they won’t be getting their hands on the title.

Photo by Getty Images

[ABOVE: Manchester City captain, Vincent Kompany, lifts the Premier League title after being crowned 2018/19 Premier League champions.]

The big question on everyone’s lips is, will the Premier League season be declared null and void or will it be concluded at this point. In the case of the latter, would it be right for Liverpool to be declared 2019/20 Premier League winners? Although the Reds are well clear of the pack, would this be fair to the other teams in the league?

The question of who qualifies for the Champions League and Europa League, and who gets relegated comes into the picture as well.

Manchester United, who has gone on an 11-game unbeaten run in all competitions and who look to find themselves on a purple patch, will ask the question why they could not get one of the Champions League spots considering they lie just three points off of 4th placed Chelsea.

Aston Villa will be asking the question of why they should not stay in the Premier League considering they are only 2-point’s off safety with a game in hand on 17th place Watford.

All these questions will come into effect only if they declare the season terminated and if Liverpool are crowned eventual champions.

Another question that comes into play, if the Premier League is declared null and void, is who will get those coveted Champions League and Europa League places for next season? There is a huge amount of administrative work to be done as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gary Neville recently stated that he believes there should be a “festival of football” to end off the season. This will entail clubs in the Premier League playing a huge amount of games within a limited period of time to make up for the lost time caused by the halt in proceedings.

This would surely cause a dramatic end to the season.

This, however, would not favour the so-called ‘lesser’ clubs as they don’t have the squad numbers and depth to play the maximum number of games within the given time period. The ‘top-six’ teams could capitalize on this as they not only have huge squad numbers but strength in depth as well.

This has been an extraordinary end to an already dramatic season and the drama is not over just yet.

Photo by Getty Images: Andy Hooper

[ABOVE: Liverpool captain at the time, Steven Gerrard, visibly upset after his infamous slip which consequently lost them the title in the 2013/14 season]

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